How to Avoid Moving Scams

Anita Clark's picture

Did you know local real estate agents can play a crucial role in the home relocation process? Whether it is giving advice, providing the answer to queries, or utilizing their resources to help with a variety of tasks, like picking a moving company to hire. Whether you are helping a frequent client or assisting new, first-time home movers, the pitfalls below are simple enough to avoid if you pay attention.

There are several things that can make moving a challenge. To protect your clients, you must learn more about these potential pitfalls so you can direct them to reliable movers. Keep the following things in mind the next time your clients look for a mover.

Protect Your Move

In this scenario, movers will deliver the items to the location as agreed, but then they will refuse to open the truck unless the customer pays more money upfront. According to the “Protect Your Move” campaign by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, one in 10 people who move falls victim to this scam. Hence, it’s crucial to have a written contract covering the terms of the move. You want to save money when you move, not get caught with shady fees at the end of the transaction.

Watch out for Hidden Fees

Transparency is important in a business transaction. It’s not a good practice to hide fees from the customer and reveal these charges later on—which is what this swindle entails. The mover intentionally reduces the quote given to the customer at first, without breaking down the costs. After the move, the costs become significantly higher once the movers reveal the other charges. These may include tolls and gas fees, among others, which the client might have initially thought were already included in the first payment.

Weight-based Scams

A lot of interstate and long-distance movers charge by weight. In this process, the movers go to the customer with the truck’s weight ticket. The movers then pick up the items, go back to the scale, and deduct the truck’s weight. Customers get an accurate picture of how much their possessions weigh and the corresponding charge.

Now, not all moving companies are honest about this process. There are different ways to do weight-based scams, but they mainly fall into two categories:
• Changing the weight — The movers quote a low price by estimating the items’ overall weight. After the movers drive to the scale by themselves, however, they report a substantially higher price.
• Adding weight — The movers show the customer the truck’s weight ticket with the vehicle running on fumes and with only one mover on board. However, once they pick up the items and it’s time to weigh again, they fill up the gas tank and put more people inside the truck. The movers may even add items from another job. With the extra weight, customers would need to pay more.
If any of these happen, advise your clients to ask for a reweigh with them present. They are legally allowed to do so under federal law.

Dishonest Moving Companies

There are many fake moving companies on the hunt for unsuspecting people. In this method, they act as brokers by baiting customers with suspiciously low quotes. After coming to an agreement over the phone or online, they ask for an upfront deposit. Then they sell their customers to other moving companies.

The next company is unaware of the first deposit and makes their own quote. When the customer questions this and tries to call the broker, they usually can’t be reached or they state that it’s no longer their responsibility. Thus, the customer ends up paying substantially more than what they should pay for had they transacted with legitimate movers in the first place.

Tips on How to Avoid Moving Scams

While there are several bad movers on the prowl, it’s more than possible to avoid them. By doing your research and putting in the work, you can feel assured that you’re transacting with a trustworthy moving company. Here are a few pointers to help you:

• Check the company’s history and previous clientele — Look for their website, store, and reviews. Check if they have insurance as well. If they don’t offer insurance, there’s a chance they may not be licensed.
• Conduct business face-to-face — Insisting to talk over the phone or online only is a big red flag. Additionally, have the movers go to the house for an accurate quote on the items.
• Beware of exorbitantly low quotes — Find out the industry price range for moving. If the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. Your client may fall victim to hidden fees or worse, have their possessions stolen by a fake moving company.
• Get the agreement written down — A verbal agreement is not an assurance of goodwill and won’t hold up in court as well as a written contract. Have the agreement clearly state the breakdown of fees—what is and what’s not included in the transaction. This will prevent a hostage situation and the appearance of hidden fees.

Final Moving Scam Advice

Relocation is an exciting experience and hiring the wrong movers is a frustrating start to a new life. Ensure a comfortable and safe transition for your clients by warning them of these moving scams, and earn their trust even more by recommending trustworthy, professional moving companies. For example, they could be relocating to another state as far as California to Florida. Naturally, they’d want movers who can help them move to South Tampa without any hassle. Wherever you decide to lay your hat and call home, ensure you do your homework and have a fully vetted moving plan in-place to avoid any scams or pitfalls that may arise.

Add new comment